Main image: Stockholm+50 Samoa National Consultations hybrid launch. Photo: UNDP, Samoa.
4 May 2022, Apia – Fifty years after the first United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, has reflected on how a seedling planted at that Conference would eventually become the tree that is now known as SPREP.
Speaking at the launch of the Stockholm+50 Samoa National Consultations, Mr Nawadra provided participants with a brief history of SPREP and how it is closely linked to the 1972 Stockholm Conference.
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established at the Stockholm Conference in June 1972, and in 1974 it funded a regional coral reef programme within the Pacific Community (SPC). That seedling left SPC in Noumea in 1992 and was transplanted to the fertile soil of Apia, where in 1993 through an agreement signed by our Members, became the Pacific’s regional inter-governmental environment organisation,” Mr Nawadra said.
The establishment of SPREP set the regional environmental vision and sent a clear signal to the global community of the deep commitment of Pacific Island governments and administrators to better manage the environment within the context of sustainable development.
Fifty years on, the challenges have multiplied as the planet continues to be severely affected as a result of human activities. This is despite commitments made and the subsequent actions that followed. Several reports, including the UNEP sixth Global Environment Outlook, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report 6, and SPREP’s State of Environment and Conservation in the Pacific 2020 report, provide a bleak outlook into the future.
Stockholm+50 commemorates 50 years of global environmental action since the first UN Conference on the Environment was 1972 and 2022 is also Rio+30. The event recognises the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – and aims to act as a springboard to accelerate the implementation of the UN Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, including the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and encourage the adoption of green post-COVID-19 recovery plans.
National consultations will be held prior to the Stockholm+50 International Meeting in June, and will invite partners, stakeholders, and community members to participate in the dialogues on discussing and resolving climate, nature and pollution challenges.
Mr Nawadra joined the Samoa’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Simona Miranescu and the United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Mr Jorn Sorensen, to officially launch the Samoan national consultations.
“It is fitting that we come together to commemorate Stockholm and to learn from the journey since 1972, but it is even more important that we now re-dedicate ourselves to the task,” Mr Nawadra said.
“We at SPREP are committed to working with you all in realising our global environment vision first articulated at Stockholm 50 years ago, particularly for present and future generations of our Blue Pacific Continent.”